20 years ago, I left Philadelphia after four years of medical training and then teaching at a medical school to move to Northeast Pennsylvania with my wife, 2 year old son and one on the way. While living in Philly we attended Living Word Community in Center City. It was a vibrant fellowship of young professionals, med students, engineers, lawyers and doctors and was pastored by a former professor of electrical engineering at U of P. It was also a diverse congregation ethnically, embracing and welcoming people of all cultural backgrounds.
Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, my wife was diagnosed with a rare but uniformly fatal form of lung cancer. At the time only 33 cases had been reported in the medical literature. Living Word Community surrounded us with love and support and some folks there introduced us to the "healing" teachings that had their roots in the Tulsa teachers (Hagen, Copeland, Roberts).
For the entire time we were there we studied and memorized the scriptures that pertained to healing and comforted ourselves with the belief that "Jesus went and healed them all" and "by his stripes we are healed." We read only what we wanted to believe the scriptures said and avoided the verses that told us things we didn't want to see. Verses like; "That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings; being made conformable to his death" and "Not my will but yours" were not part of our lexicon of healing verses.
Needless to say, this was a difficult way to live, constantly in denial and working really, really hard to obtain the healing for my late wife. They say Catholics depend on works , but holy hanna, this was an awful lot of work!
The rest of the story is in my testimony here.
Today I was visiting my youngest son in Philadelphia and we went to Mass at the Cathedral in Center City. It dredged up a lot of memories and some sad feelings about that difficult time in my life. (Working 70-80 hours a week as an intern and carrying around the constant thought that my young wife could die if we didn't have enough faith) It turns out that the Cathedral is around the block from our old Living Word Community and we had to walk right past the cathedral every Sunday when I lived there. My Catholic Blinders were fully functional back then so I never knew what and who I was walking by. (I had no idea what a cathedral was.) This little trip down memory lane helped me to rejoice that I have found the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church.... but a tad bummed out because it took me so long!
Lord Jesus, for those out there who left the Catholic faith without knowing who they were leaving, give us the opportunity to find them and open our mouths so we will boldly speak the Truth in love.